Diana woke up feeling her eyes hurting. She had cried most of the night, she cried herself to sleep, hurt with her master’s words. As his words rang inside her head one more time, her shoulders began to shake and she sobbed a little more, crying first thing in the morning and muffling her cry against her pillow. A knock on the door made her raise her head and clean her eyes with the back of her hands.
“Who is it?” She asked loud trying to sound normal.
“It’s late.” She heard her father on the outside.
“I don’t feel well.” She shouted.
“Are you ill?” Constantine insisted.
“I’m just tired father.”
“Don’t forget Lord Byron is coming to see you.” Constantine reminded her. Diana sat on the bed as she heard this.
“Oh…” She whispered and frowned. With the intensity of her emotions, she had forgotten all about it. “Ok.” She then yelled.
She heard her father’s steps going away and she stared at her own image in the oval mirror in front of her bed. Her eyes were so swollen there wasn’t any chance for her to disguise her torment and sadness. However, she got up. Opening the wardrobe she chose what to wear. A silk salmon dress with lace in the end was her choice. She knew she looked nice in that dress and then she began to take care of herself.
Martha had helped her putting water in the tub. While bringing the pots from the kitchen Martha eyed her suspiciously, but she had refused to make Diana any questions. Diana, on the other hand, didn’t feel like talking to anyone, not even like she could tell what was happening to her. She avoided Martha’s gaze the best she could and ordered her to leave when her tub was full. Usually she didn’t take a bath in the morning, she used to take one at night, but circumstances were different that day. She needed to revive herself and look fresh.
She threw some of her lavender essence in the water and then went inside. She washed her hair carefully and then her body, taking time doing so. She needed her humor lifted up and needed not to look so sad and desperate. Once done with her bath, she began to get dressed. Diana combed her hair carefully and finished it with a white flower and a golden necklace around her neck. The mark of James’ bite had disappeared. Diana ran her hands over where the mark was and then stared at her wrist. She lifted the sleeve; she needed to be careful not to let anyone see it, especially her father. Done, she went to the kitchen.
“Are you hungry?” Martha offered her a loaf with butter and tea. Diana shook her head without pronouncing a word. “What’s the matter?” The cooker asked.
“It’s nothing Martha.” Diana told her. She tried to force a smile but she was sure the smile didn’t appear on her lips. Martha sat in front of her.
“Who are you trying to fool?” She grabbed Diana’s hand in hers. “I know you…I’ve never seen that sadness in your eyes.” Diana felt like crying right there. Her heart was broken, that’s what was going on, but she couldn’t tell.
“I am just a little tired.” She answered instead. Diana knew Martha truly cared about her.
“Is it because of the man your father took you to yesterday?” Diana was surprised Martha knew about it, but she shook her head.
“No…” Then she shrugged. “I don’t mind…” Martha’s eyebrow curled up surprised.
“He is very nice. He likes the same poets I do. He’s very well brought up and educated, Lord Byron is gentle and…” She was going to say gorgeous but she restrained. Martha smiled knowingly.
“Is it now that you get married my lady?” Martha asked. Why did people have to insist so much for her to get married?
“The fact that I liked Lord Byron doesn’t mean I want to marry him.”
“If he’s a good man…” Martha said. Diana sighed… Yes, Jack was a good man but he expected a virgin and she wasn’t one. Diana was a sinner at the eyes of the church. There wasn’t a priest in England that would accept to marry her if they knew the truth.
“Only the future will tell.” Diana said faintly and then turned to her food. She grabbed a slice of the loaf that was on the table and gave it a bite. Martha patted her hand in support and then got up, leaving her alone.
She closed herself in her room until the arrival of Jack Byron. Diana didn’t cry anymore and hoped that sad face would leave her in time to receive her guest. She didn’t want him to notice how miserable she felt. Constantine called her.
“My daughter, Lord Byron is in the saloon.” Constantine announced. Surprisingly Diana felt her heart racing a bit, and while she walked by her father’s side, she felt rather anxious to see him. They both stopped at the door of the saloon. Her heart raced faster when she laid her eyes on him. Jack was wearing a black suit that time and was watching one of the masters’ paintings.
“My lord…” Constantine called and Jack turned around. His light blue eyes rested on hers and intently he smiled. Diana smiled back feeling her heart beating on her throat. She wanted to say something but her throat was so dry that she couldn’t even speak. His beauty amazed her. His teeth were so perfect and she loved the way his waved red hair rebelled, not having the quite straight combed hair. Jack was different from all the other man she knew.
“My lady…” He came to her and bowed. Jack caught her hand and Diana shivered at his soft touch and when his lips kissed her hand, she felt this heat running over her body.
“My lord…” She bowed back.
“Is that from Goya?” Jack then asked still interested in the painting.
“It is yes.” Diana confirmed.
“Do you know he is from Spain?” Jack asked and Diana nodded. “Have you ever been there?”
“I have never left England.” She told him.
“Spain is beautiful.” Jack told her. “Do you know he’s also an engraver?”
“I know.” She giggled. “And he’s also a fresco painter, not just oil.” Jack turned around to look at her again. He was amazed with her knowledge and even more with her beauty, though there was this strange look in her eyes that moment.
“Shall you show me your garden?” He asked and Diana nodded. Constantine made them company until the outside and then he left them alone. Jack gave his arm to Diana and, reluctantly, she accepted it.
“Why do you look so sad today?” He asked her.
“I am not sad.” She told him. Jack stopped walking and sat on a bench, then he asked her to sit with a gesture and she did so.
“I think we both know why our parents wanted us to meet.” He said. Diana nodded. “You are beautiful…” He told her. “The most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen my lady.” She smiled but looked away from him. Suddenly she felt embarrassed. Jack took her hand in his.
“Even if our parents want us to marry, I think you can tell me the truth. The sadness you have in your eyes…” He looked deeply in her eyes. “…it’s caused by love.” He said as if he knew everything about her. Diana nodded. She wouldn’t lie to him. Jack seemed like someone she could trust. At her nod he looked away, hopeless.
“I understand…” He said. She realized that Jack was thinking about marrying her for real. Now her life was upside down.
“He doesn’t want to marry me.” She said, and tears came to her eyes as she said the words. She wouldn’t say much more than that, she couldn’t.
“He left you?” Jack then asked her and Diana nodded. “My poor lady…” He whispered.
“He says we can’t be happy together…” She relieved but then her eyes hit his and she shut up.
“Maybe we should meet more times.” Jack suggested. “Would you let me visit you more times?”
She smiled. “Yes.” Jack smiled openly with her answer. “Now tell me about Spain. Have you been somewhere else?”
“Paris.” He said. Diana gasped. Going to Paris was her dream.
“Is it beautiful as everyone says?” She inquired him. Jack laughed loud and nodded.
“It is gorgeous and more liberal than here. People are different. I studied there.” He told her.
“Vous parlez français monsieur?” She joked and he looked at her in an awe.
“Oui.” He then said. “You speak French?”
“Yes, I do. How would I be able to read French authors if not?”
“Good point. Can I call you Diana? You can call me Jack…” He suggested. Lightly, she felt his fingers brushing hers. Diana giggled nervously. His blue eyes pierced hers in a weird manner. There was this glitter that captivated her.
“Well, Jack…yes you can.” She said.
Jack got up and offered her his arm again. “Shall we continue our promenade?” Diana got up and accepted his arm again. “You must show me the garden of this marvelous palace where you live.”
“This palace belongs to my master, not to my family.” She clarified.
“Have I ever seen your master?” Jack asked curling an eyebrow as if thinking.
“I don’t believe you have.”
“Would you like to travel Diana?” Jack changed the subject.
“Oh yes.” Her eyes widened. “Didn’t I just say I would love to meet Paris?”
“You can, if you be my wife.” He told her.
Diana stared at him a little shocked. “You have to let me think about it.” She told him, not using the straight forward no she had used with others.
“I give you all the time in the world.” He told her.
“Don’t you care to be married with love?”
“I know I am going to love you.” He smiled. His eyes glittered while he smiled at her and she took a deep breath taken away by his words.